Ask the Trainer: Let's Talk Diet. Plus, How Are Your Resolutions Doing?
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — It’s Friday March 6, 2009, 64 days after New Years, how many people are still committed to their New Year’s resolutions? If you are, or are not, drop me a comment and tell me your story. I want to know what is going on in the trenches. Who is being naughty, who is being nice and why either way.
Many people make resolutions that have to do with food, and diet is the topic we are going to look at this week.
This week Tatiana wrote in and asked, "I am so confused with my diet. There are so many diet books with conflicting ideas. What is the best diet to lose weight?”
Wow, now we are touching on the holy grail of health, fitness and wellness…food. It is the topic du jour of human existence. Most people love it, a few people obsess over it, and even more don’t understand it. The question is, why do so many books profess to have the secret ingredient to unlocking your weight loss goals? Let’s unravel this mystery one step at a time.
First, we have to discuss why we eat. Most people think we eat solely for taste and enjoyment. We basically eat to live which is no news flash to most. Looking deeper, we find that life is sustained by eating because our bodies recreate themselves through the food that we consume. Each part of our bodies is made up of like-minded cells grouped together. For instance, skin cells perform skin functions like protecting our innards from germs, regulating body temperature, etc. New skin cells are created from existing skin cells. We get an entirely new body, part by part, every 18 months based on this system of regeneration. In short, junk food in, unhealthy body out, healthy foods in, healthy fully functioning body out.
Can you imagine your poor brain having to recreate itself from French fries, hamburgers and soda? That is what I say to the kids that I counsel through my obesity prevention nonprofit GooDeed Health. I also encourage them to eat smart foods not dumb ones because, intelligence has been directly linked to food intake. Your brain works much better when it has all the nutrients it needs to recreate itself. It falters and functions inefficiently when it is forced to operate on junk food.
Another good way to look at the role that food has in our health is to consider the statement, “Food is medicine and medicine is food.” There are only two things that happen to you when you eat. The food extends your life or it kills you. I do not mean that it will kill you outright this minute, but it will happen bit by bit, each day.
Take an apple for example. Your body will use every part of this apple to its benefit provided it is organic and doesn’t contain any chemical pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, (chemical cocktail), GMO, biosolids, etc. Your body will use the water contained in the apple for cleaning metabolic waste out of the inside of your cells. It contains pectin, a soluble fiber that aids in digestion and may help to reduce cancer and heart disease. The apple also supplies your body with as much fiber as a bowl of bran cereal. The skin is rich in cancer fighting antioxidants and boron, an essential trace element that helps harden bones. This is why they say, “An apple a day will keep the doctor away.”
French fries and potato chip on the other hand will probably contain one of the above-mentioned chemical cocktail ingredients, which is harmful to normal cellular function. The saturated fats will contribute to the blood clogging formation of plague on the arterial walls. The hydrogenation of fat will enable it to infiltrate the cell membrane and cause irrevocable damage. The salt in these foods will likely raise your blood pressure. This causes increased stress on the artery walls and will change the ph level of your blood making it more acidic and unbearable for healthy cell function. Hence, either the food and all its ingredients are of benefit to the body, or they are a hindrance creating waste inside of it, which has to be eliminated. Unfortunately the body becomes less efficient over time in the removal of waste, which can result in disease.
I took the long way around to answer Tatiana’s question about what is the best diet given the vast number of books on the subject. I wanted to provide you with a bit of background information that would help empower you to make healthier food choices.
The short and simple answer is we are all made of the same components and we all need the same nutrients. The only differences are based on our genetic coding, individual dietary habits, physical demands on our bodies, etc. Therefore, each of us need differing amounts of the same nutrients. The best weight loss diet is more or less the same as your regular maintenance diet - just fewer calories. Eat only the foods that will supply you with the recommended daily allowance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, carbs, etc, and you will feel and look great.
It's always a good idea to consult your doctor first and have them do an extensive blood panel workup on you. This will tell you, among other things, what nutrients you are deficient in and have them test for heavy metals as well. For a less expensive approach, meet with a nutritionist and have them evaluate your dietary habits. Or if money is an issue, use the free online resource provided to us by our very own government. Check out http://www.mypyramid.gov and click "MyPyramid Menu Planner" on the right side of the page to join the program. The food pyramid program is a great resource rich with information on nutrition. It guides you along the way to achieving your weight goal.
In the end as I always say, “Adopt a diet now that you can maintain for the rest of your life.” If you are eating a nutrient dense good tasting diet along with exercising, you will reduce your body to a normal size and weight in a healthy and efficient manner (baring a thyroid problem or medical condition). Diet books will not tell you the truth that we all should be eating the same diet, because they have to differentiate themselves from each other. The difference is that we all need varying amounts of the same nutrients.
Downtown Exercise Spots
This week’s Downtown exercise hot spot shout out goes to:
Stuart M. Ketchum Downtown YMCA / 401 S. Hope Street / 213.624.2348
The Los Angeles Athletic Club / 431 West Seventh Street / 213.625.2211
Check back next Friday as we continue to spotlight more workout spots Downtown and we’ll answer another email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Til next time—Exercise More, Play Hard, Work Smart.
Extreme Natural Fitness Trainer